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Mary Blair Google Doodle: Academy honors 'Mary Blair's World of Color'

October 21, 2011 |  9:00 am

Disney artist Mary Blair is honored with a Google Doodle on what would have been her 100th birthday

This post has been corrected. See note below for details.

Mary Blair, honored Friday with a Google Doodle, is the woman to thank for the Disneyland boat ride It's a Small World.

Blair's doodle coincides with a Los Angeles tribute to the longtime Disney artist. Thursday night, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences hosted "Mary Blair's World of Color -- A Centennial Tribute" to celebrate the woman, born a century ago, who made a place for herself among Disney's famous founding animators, the Nine Old Men.

The Los Angeles Times' Susan King, a writer and expert on classic Hollywood, reported Monday on the tribute and says Blair is best known for her contributions to the 1950 animated "Cinderella," 1951's "Alice in Wonderland" and 1953's "Peter Pan" -- as well as the aforementioned design for It's a Small World. 

GALLERY: Google's birthday doodles

Blair, who followed her animator husband, Lee Blair, to the Disney studio in 1940, was greatly admired by boss Walt Disney, who requested her work on It's a Small World.

Visitors to Anaheim's Disneyland of old might remember murals by Blair that decorated Tomorrowland. Those have fallen by the wayside in remodels over the years.  Reaction to the 1986 removal of tiles bearing her artwork continues years later.  Comments on a YouTube site showing the removal include: "I know disneyland needs to change but still ... mary blair is like the '2nd walt disney' ... disneyland, u failed."

Still, a Blair-designed 90-foot-high mural remains in place at Disney's Contemporary Hotel at Disney World in Orlando, Fla.

Just a reminder of the lasting regard for the artist, who died July 26, 1978.

"She influenced the tone of the picture with her use of color and design," Michael Giaimo told the Los Angeles Times' King.

The art director on Disney's 1995 "Pocahontas" and visual development artist on 2004's "Home on the Range" said: "So many design elements that were more finessed by the time the stories reached the screen, all had a genesis in her designs."

[Corrected at 7:21 p.m. Oct. 21: An earlier version of this post implied the academy tribute was set for next week. The event was held Thursday.]

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-- Amy Hubbard

Photo: Mary Blair, in an undated photo at her home studio, spent more than two decades working on Disney's animated features. She was the first woman to hold such a top status at the studio. Credit: Family of Mary Blair

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